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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 19:39 GMT
Bin Laden video highlights divide
Indonesian watching video
Many Indonesians are sceptical about the video
By BBC world affairs correspondent Mike Wooldridge

World reaction to the Osama Bin Laden video has divided along lines that could probably have been predicted.

In the West, the tape is widely seen as strengthening the case that Bin Laden was behind the 11 September attacks.


The convinced will remain convinced, there is no clear sign yet that waverers are changing their minds in significant numbers

In the Islamic world there has been some government reaction on similar lines. But militant groups have claimed that the video is a fake - and among ordinary people there appears to be a good deal of scepticism.

This suggests that the video in itself will not do much to change perceptions about terrorism. The convinced will remain convinced. There is no clear sign yet that waverers are changing their minds in significant numbers.

In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, a spokesman for the Laskar Jihad militia, Wirawan Adnan, said: "We do not believe the video is authentic because, first of all, the images are not clear. Secondly, we question whether Osama would allow any tape recording to be made of himself discussing the attack."

In Pakistan, the radical Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam party accused the Americans of trying to justify what it called their "genocide" of Afghans and Muslims by resorting to "such low-quality tricks".

Sharp contrast

In the video, Bin Laden sits on the floor of a room in a camouflage jacket and describes, according to a US government translation of the Arabic, how the 11 September hijackers were only told of their mission on the day of the attacks and how the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center exceeded his calculations - and his hopes.

Osama Bin Laden on Al Jazeera television
Bin Laden: Involvement "proved"
From Pakistan's government, which has co-operated with the Americans in the military operation in Afghanistan, reaction to the Bin Laden video was in sharp contrast to the scathing rejection of it by the Islamists.

A government spokesman said the video was a vindication of President Pervez Musharraf's assessment that there seemed to be linkages between Bin Laden and the 11 September attacks. "It proves that what President Musharraf said at the time was correct," he said.

Egyptian state television also said the video "proves Osama Bin Laden's involvement in the 11 September events".

But on one television talk show in Egypt a military analyst, Hassan Suweilam, took a more sceptical line. "The tape is suspicious," he said. He argued that if the Americans had evidence that condemned Bin Laden they should present it to the courts, not on television screens.

The tape as evidence

Questions have already been raised over the admissibility of the video as evidence if Bin Laden were to be put on trial, particularly in a civilian court.

The assumption is that defence lawyers would try to undermine its credibility on the grounds of the poor quality of the recording.


Kabul residents were already in little doubt that Bin Laden planned the New York and Washington attacks

The near inaudibility of parts of the tape has clearly played into the hands of those who are suspicious of the Americans and their strategy, and that is reflected in reports from various parts of the Islamic world.

The one Muslim country where hardly anyone will have seen the video - it remains largely isolated from the all-pervasive culture of global TV - is Afghanistan.

But Kabul residents were already, it seems, in little doubt that Bin Laden had planned the New York and Washington attacks.

One shopkeeper, Hakhim Dostzada, was quoted today as saying that Bin Laden was not a good Muslim and ordinary Muslims would be happy if he was killed.

The message was that he did not need to see the video to convince him of that.

See also:

14 Dec 01 | South Asia
Arabs split on Bin Laden tape
13 Dec 01 | South Asia
Osama Bin Laden transcript excerpts
13 Dec 01 | Middle East
Arabs divided over Bin Laden tape
13 Dec 01 | Americas
US terror suspect in court
11 Dec 01 | Europe
Looking for European al-Qaeda
04 Oct 01 | South Asia
Pakistan says terror evidence 'strong'
04 Oct 01 | UK Politics
The UK's Bin Laden dossier in full
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